Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chicagospell (part 3 1/2)

Jesse S. Mitchell

part 3 here

As they walk down the aisle, shimmering-appearing next to them, on the right and on the left, transparent images of people start to appear.  Charlie looks over at them, holographic ghosts, automatons moving stiffly. Every set of thin, translucent eyeballs staring back at him and the cigar man as they pass.
As they walk down the aisle, shimmering-appearing next to them, on the right and on the left, transparent images of people start to appear.  Charlie looks over at them, holographic ghosts, automatons moving stiffly. All of them dressed in rags and torn clothes, dirty faces, stained, cracked hands, a hundred years of sun ruined skin stretched tight across their faces. Every set of thin, translucent eyeballs staring back at him and the cigar man as they pass.
Charlie feels his skin goose pimple up, a frown comes across his face, creeped out.
He shakes his head.
“Look at these people.”  He blurts out.
The cigar smoking looks over his shoulder and shrugs.
“You see, I never wanted to be these people.  A herd of mediocrity and feebleness, a bunch of hog butchers and ditch diggers, sans-culottes.  And don’t think they don’t have a taste for blood.  Oh no, don’t ever fail to take these monsters seriously, they’ll gut you right open.  Yeah.  But, don’t think I don’t sympathize.  I have no love for their enemies…some of their enemies, the rich, the cowardly wealth-mongers, the thirsty beyond any satiation.  But also, they hate the talented, the gifted, the new, the novel.  Slit your throat for showing up any of their deficiencies.  I grew up in a trailer park.  I did.  I really did.  I know this life.  I know these people.  They will steal the blood from your veins, the copper from your wires, the breath from your life, diminish their own kind, too frightened to lash out at real villains, too confused to see real life.  Wife-beaters, child-abusers, time-wasters.  This place makes me sad, churches always do, churches, temples, mosques, jails, joke shops.”
Charlie runs his hands over the dark red-brown wood of the pews.  Smooth, takes his hand up and looks over his fingertips, they are clean, impeccable the care people take to care for their sacred places.
“If only everyone of us was considered so special, so sacred.  What if every moment of every life was held so holy.  What would be different?  What would be so safeguarded?  What if we could accept what we saw with our own eyes as being so remarkable as the mythical things dreamt of by others and then related to our young ears by means of poetry…and if not poetry than by guile?”
“A different world.” a uniformed man barely says.
“Ah! So you can speak.” Charlie shouts
“A different time.”
“Hmm.  And I suppose you will tell me something about faith, faith in man, and love, and beauty, and hope and all the rest.  But I wouldn‘t waste my breath, you know.  Not that I don‘t see the benefit in that whole ball of bullshit.  Give a person a light at the end of a tunnel and they will keep chugging on.  A little bit of hope for something better some far off maybe someday, and as the years go by, and pile up all skeletal and bleached, they will smile on and on, their little pitiful face turned towards the sun, the setting, always setting sun.  Heaven makes good slaves, peace and hope and wild stories of charity and compassion makes good slaves.  Something to work towards, something to look forward to, and then you don‘t notice the shit around your waist, the rope around your neck.  I can‘t see why people can‘t ever just see the world like the Vikings?  Those people had the right way of looking at things, everything was going to end eventually, it was all going to come crumbing down, the world was going to end and everything you ever knew or love was going to crumble with it.  Good was not going to win.  But, but that wasn’t going to be for some time, better get your livin’ in, get the good times now, and even heaven, if you make there, warrior or saint, even heaven was in danger of total collapse, best get it all in while you can.  Now, that is a healthy philosophy for life. ”
The ragged ghosts flicker faintly, static, broken-breath, like bad TV reception, they start to disappear leaving the inside of the cathedral empty and quiet.  Charlie’s footsteps echo, sound like bomb dropping, going off.  Startled by the new reverberation, he steps gingerly, trying to avoid the little explosions.
“Look, put your arms out.  You can feel it all around you.  We two, you and me, whoever you are, whatever you happen to look like when I look back up and see you, whatever vision, imaginary or hallucinatory, real  practical living seeing breathing whatever, just listen to me.  You and I, put your arms out next to mine, here we stand on the absolute edge of all creation.  Standing, like gritting teeth, clinched fists, bated breath, chest-deep on the very cusp of the penultimate crest, the highest water mark of the nearest everything, the top of the wave of time.  Here we are, in the actual present, real time, real life, we are here, now, right now.  But are we crashing forward?  Or are we ebbing away?  Coming in on the tide, frothy surf, or relaxing, recoiling back under the cold currents?  Folding back into all the ocean that has come before us, carried us here?”
Charlie stand still for a second or more, a slight sly smile on his face, his eyes closed, a serenity blooming over his face, happy with himself, with his questioning mind.  The look fades, his face melts back to a acerbic scowl.  He waves his hand in front of his face.
“But forget it, I’m an old man now or at least old enough to know better, know better.  Yes, know better, know that I roll away with the peaks and the troughs, the deep way down, the deep red earth.  Made from dirt, deposited on the shore, stood up, strong legs, lived a life…sort of, did my time, sun come bleach my bones, birds come pick my flesh, grow new, grow new.  Greek ironic punishments.  Humph, but that’s life, an ironic twist on a violent birth, a slow wither.”
“We go forward as far as we dare, at whatever speed we choose.”
“Do we?  You put this on me, then?  But what have I been saying?  That I even wished to go further?  No, if you had been listening this whole time, you’d know, I’ve been sounding the retreat for sometime now.  Going to get away, put in my feelers, and try to avoid the disturbing air, the breeze, the flow.  Be an internal creature from here on out, a turtle, a snail, deep inside my shell, tired of cherry, tired of rice, tired of this whole world.  That‘s Basho.  That‘s the true hermit call.”

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